The Magic Sweets

I’ve been tidying up. I found an old work book from my last year at primary school. On the 7th September I wrote a story called The Magic Sweets. I have no memory of writing this, but I present it here.

The Magic Sweets page 1
The Magic Sweets page 2

The Magic Sweets

One day I went into a shop I had never been in before when I went in I saw it was a sweet shop. Inside were rows of jars. On the counter were two jars of sweets. One jar said magic sweets and the other one said UFO pills. I didn’t like the sound of UFO pills. So I got some magic sweets when I got out I had one I felt a bang in my head I was back in time. I looked at my watch. It had turned into a time gauge I was at the time of the beginning of the universe. Everything was black then I saw a flash a fireball had exploded and everything was created. But then the sweet wore off. So I took a blue one then I went into the future. But the sweet wore off so I went to school and saved them for a different day.

An interesting idea David. Take care with letter shapes. (Mr Luxford, my teacher)


Capturing the partial solar eclipse of June 2021

I live in the UK and I’m an amateur astronomer, I’m very familiar with the vagaries of the weather and how a run of seemingly perfect days (nights) before an astronomical event will come to a crashing halt with a sky of clouds scant hours before the event starts.

With this in mind, and after a run of days with perfect blues skies, I’d decided to not make a great effort to view the eclipse; instead I just took a small, cheap spotting ‘scope to work with the intention of using it to project an image of the sun if the sun ever became visible.

Ten minutes before maximum eclipse there was no sun to be seen, not even a dim disc though the clouds, just a diffuse glow. Undaunted, I set the telescope up on a crap tripod I had laying around the lab and got it roughly pointed at the sun. I improvised a sunshield around the objective lens with a bit of cardboard box. The projection screen was some copier paper suck to a Tea-tray.

The sky cleared several times around maximum eclipse and I managed to snap a few photos and do a bit of impromptu science communication with people wondering what I was doing.

Capturing the eclipse with a cheap telescope and a teatray
Capturing the eclipse
Projecting the partial eclipse onto a screen


A few minutes after getting my first vaccine

I took a short trip to Dagenham East for the first of my vaccinations this morning. No queue at the site, I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. The staff were very insistent I took a sticker, I wanted one anyway.

No side effects so far. Injection site feels a little bruised, but that’s all.

A rather different week.

This time last week I knew that the week ahead might look a bit different than I am used to, but I didn’t realise it would end up with me being interviewed in the Times and on Radio 4 and being broadcast on German radio too.

We published a scientific paper that’s been in the making for the last 5 years or so. It got rather a lot of attention, on social media, on the media proper and in real life. People wanted to know what was going on with 300 year old letters and how we had read them without opening them, and more importantly what did they say?

The general gist of the letter’s contents is that Jacques Sennacques wanted his cousin Pierre La Pers to provide a copy of the death certificate of Daniel Le Pers. Unfortunately, we don’t know who Daniel Le Pers was, but we do know that Jacques needed a copy of his death certificate for financial and legal reasons probably related to the changes in French inheritance laws that were coming into play.

Unfortunately for Jacques, the letter was never delivered. It most probably ended up in the Hague as misdirected post, and it sat unopened and unread in a small wooden chest until we came along and used x-ray techniques and software to virtually open it.